Lead Prayers – Mary Anoints Jesus

This Holy Week I’ve recorded some reflections for people to participate with. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday I’m going to post one here each day for the next 4 days.

Each one features prayer, scripture and poetry or story and are accompanied by images by dear artist friends. They are about 20minutes long.

They are designed to be done in silence and reflection and could be integrated into your prayer practice. If you are new to reflective practice I encourage you to find a quiet space free from distractions and see it as a new way of praying. The music quality in this one is not great so maybe have a song cued that you can listen to during that part.

They are not without (many) imperfections. However, I hope that they might help in leaning into the days of this most Holy Week in these strangest of times.

Holy Week

A couple of years ago I did the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius with my spiritual director. I found as I set out on the journey to the cross that I didn’t want to walk with Jesus to the cross. I just wanted to be there on Sunday. It is something in me that still needs changing – this ability to enter lament, to be present to pain. May we all have courage to allow ourselves to enter pain and to receive love even there.

Miriam x

IMG_3865

 

I don’t want to walk with you to the cross

don’t want to pass the jeering crowd

or be present to the lonely abyss of Gethsemane

 

I want to stand on Sunday’s horizon

and say

it’s okay Jesus

            look resurrection will come

 

So, like the crowd I condemn

and the disciples I judge

I abandon you

on your walk to the cross

 

I leave you alone

so alone

human man

acquainted with suffering and grief

 

I really just want

the resurrection power

the triumph of the lamb

the roar of the lion

 

so I climb up to my privileged position

and wait at the dawn of Sunday

ready to sing my alleluias

where a stone is rolled away

 

and as I abandon you

I acknowledge I have abandoned others

on their difficult journeys through

death’s valley

preferring to whisper hope

from resurrection’s empty tomb

 

instead of being empty accompaniment

into the cave

where death seems

to have the victory

 

I am afraid of accompanying you

and afraid of accompanying others

I am a broken disciple

 

would you hold this unfaithful

uncomfortable hand in yours

as I attempt not to run away

 

to hold the course for

Gethsemane

Golgotha

and

tomb

 

for as long as my small strength holds on

The Beatitudes

Heya,

This is a poem I wrote recently as I reflected on the Beatitudes as found in Matthew 4:23-5:12. I hope these words wrap you in encouragement wherever you are.

Miriam Jessie x

 

it is a strange invitation

divine and dusty

a call to be biggest

most invested

brightest

in the secret space

to pour silently, intentionally

into what will not be seen

 

when all the world is building followers

promoting best-sellers

building platforms – virtual & physical

 

a long-ago man sits

on a quiet hillside

no stadium, or microphone, or publishing deal

and tells his friends

the real secret to

blessing

joy

abundance

 

it sounds like downwardness

empty self

to be filled up – undeserved

 

it sounds like letting go

when inside and out chorus

“hold tight

no.1

self-promote”

 

it sounds like surrendering

glamour

gold

desire

 

embracing imperfect contentment

striving no more

standing open hand & heart

before persecution

& embracing an enemy with a knife in his hand

 

How can this appeal?

yet, on his lips

this man of dust and divine

I am considering it

excited even

at the prospect

of throwing it all away

the

important, image, ideology

& finding myself

 

home

fulfilled

content

 

in the company of the scarred

the overlooked

the locust-eaters

and perfume pourers

 

the depressed prophets

& righteous afflicted

the children

& the poor

 

What can they possibly offer someone like me?

 

I think perhaps

they are the shining stars

whose legacy

becomes my powhiri

 

“come, we have space for you too”

 

and a nail-scarred hand,

to match a body that did not grasp

deserved glory

enfolds mine

leads me gently

says to me

“come

 

here, amidst the mess & pain

& disappointment, & affliction

here is the

very throne room

here

is kingdom come.”

 

Holy Week

These are my current musings as I journey Easter-ward.

May it bless you, may you find yourself accompanied on the way toward the narrative of difficulty, death, vigil and resurrection. May you have courage at every part of the journey to wait, to see, to understand and to continue on.

Bless you – wherever you are along the way.

Lords prayer forgiveness

This Week

This is a week to kneel in Gethsemane’s garden

to feel the gravel push hard into thin knee flesh

 

It is a week for letting go

for sweating blood and crying tears

fear

surrender

mercy

 

It is a week to show grace to friends who could not stay awake for us

A week for others to misunderstand the gravity of what we face

 

A week to acknowledge

the heart wants to run

the flesh is weak

the journey may be intensely lonely, despite the thronging crowds

 

It is a day to kneel as light turns to night

to feel the touch of cold hard wind on skin

to long to stay eternally in this moment because the way ahead is dark and dreadful

 

It is a night to remember the One who knelt for me

that I may remember I shall never kneel alone

there is no pit so deep his love is not deeper still*

no chasm so wide he will not cross to make a way for me to come

This is Gethsemane’s week

 *Corrie Ten Boom coined this phrase

 

Permission

Have you ever been caught jumping in before you had permission to do something? Like that time you assumed the baking was for the family and cut a slice of too-good-to-be-true cake and then found out it was for someone else?

Like the 2-year-old boy who discovered all the wrapped Christmas presents hiding in bags ready for unwrapping – every single one?

We get taught it early to wait for permission. Ask before we take, to make sure it’s our turn before we get on the trampoline, to wait for the all-clear.

I feel like this is a thing I’ve taken and made my own as an adult. Like it’s not okay to launch into the great adventure before being told I’m allowed to.

rose stained glass

I’ve waited and waited for someone else to believe in my competence.

I’ve hoped to hear someone say – we’ve made a space for you, we’ve created a platform, we want you, we need you, it’s your turn. I’ve watched people get promoted, I’ve watched people be ‘discovered’, I’ve wondered and wondered when it will be my turn.

I’ve realised I’m living loud and bold in some things but in others I’m fluttering, unsure on the periphery waiting for permission I don’t actually need.

When I think about Jesus and his dealings with people they seem to be initiated with a ‘come’ or a ‘go’.

come to me you who are burdened and I will give you rest,

let the little children come to me

come and follow me

then there are the go’s

go and tell the world

go back to your servant and it will be as you have asked

go and live free from sin

Jesus didn’t say

wait until you have completed my special checklist

wait until you have a following

wait until someone else decides you are ready, competent, qualified.

The only wait the disciples were given was to wait for the Holy Spirit – the Holy Spirit who is all the power, peace, grace, strength and permission we need. This week I’m challenged to stop wasting time looking for permission to do something and start investing my effort and thought  and prayers into how I can get on with doing the things that make my heart beat fast.

As I go towards these things I remind myself that the One is with me and that His permission, approval are all I need and that He is more than capable of making a way for each of us.

Be brave today dear heart and live free to be all you have been called to be.

xxx

Peace

I think perhaps Peace is the hardest of the all the Christmas promises to experience. Maybe it’s cultural…perhaps we have bought into a Christmas season that is all about doing everything, being everywhere and meeting demands for everything and everyone.

 

I’ve been thinking about hurricanes and storms lately. It doesn’t take much looking around the world, our community or even our lives to be confronted with the noise, fear and carnage of storms.

How’s a person to have peace in such a beat up, stressed out, broken down place?

Peace I give you; peace I leave with you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Today as I’ve sat to write the words whispering in my heart are the eye of the hurricane.

In a terrible storm, in the centre closest to the worst of winds and damage there is an eye – an eye that opens all the way to the top and beyond. While the storm can be so all-encompassing there is no way to view through it, there is an opening that widens as it ascends.

In that eye there are blue skies, low wind, peaceful conditions.

It’s danced like a song in my heart today – a promise of peace in the midst of the storm.

A place of safety where the blue of heaven touches the dust of earth.

A place that widens and opens out as it ascends.

And in the song are the words that sustain and give life to peace.

This is no fleeting peace – it is a life-giving, anchoring peace, peace that quiets my heart and settles around my shoulders like a korowai (cloak), a mantle of peace that I can shelter inside when the storms rage.

I am sitting with these words – like the heavens entered earth via the eye of the storm. Because the world has never been free from storms, from noise, from violence.

But….into the storm came the Prince of Peace. 

He dwelt with us in the storm. He remains with us in the storm and he will be our Peace.

Today my Advent word for myself is PEACE.

Peace that cannot be measured,

peace that passes human understanding,

peace that abides,

peace that will come again,

peace that will reign.

75fdd-micah2b5

Today, as you anticipate Advent may you have Peace.

Peace that dwells in your heart.

Peace that surrounds like a cloak.

Peace that sustains.

Peace to you today, dear beloved one.

The shock of the Cross

I’ve been failing at Lenting…. it’s like it has slipped past me as I have rushed the other way.

I have felt it, the lack of lent, hovering like some kind of hologram completely unrelated to my here and now.

I have this dream of journeying well and being in every moment face up to behold the son. Instead, I am distracted and distractible, disagreeable and doubting, busy and all business….. and I miss the moment. My eyes flit from one demand to another and my ears tune out the wordless whisper of invitation and hear only the clamour of a million insignificant noises.

I have missed the journey to the cross and so I find myself unprepared for its confrontation.

Instead of holding the grief well and partaking in passover with love and understanding I find myself suddenly caught sleeping in the garden, I am overtaken by an angry mob who’ve come on the attack and I am blindsided.

Jesus was ready for the cross – he set his face to the journey, he gathered in and encouraged his loved ones, he agonised in the garden.

The disciples were ambushed by the whole thing… in a way, they had been invited to a lenten journey – Jesus had hinted and talked and they had missed the boat. When they finally realised they were in the midst and it was too late for finding inner stillness and trust, they were rudderless.

Perhaps that’s why I need the journey of Lent – because the cross is carried in a million ways, everyday.

The cross is carried in quiet discipline that no-one sees.
The cross is carried in the tongue kept still when it wants to lash out.
The cross is carried in the extra un-noticed mile in the workplace.
The cross is carried in the daily surrender of my right to rule.

When I forget to take these million small ‘cross journeys’ then I suddenly find I am crushed and overwhelmed. I found myself undisciplined, answering back, doing only my dues, demanding my rights…. I find I am in fact  sprinting away from the cross not journeying towards it.

Lent is disappearing and the cross looms large on the horizon…. may I find the courage to lay down the demands before me and take up the yoke I am invited to. Friday is coming but there is time to prepare my heart, to fall in step with Jesus once again as he walks determinedly up that hill.

Because I know Easter will come, there will be chocolate and buns, there will be celebration and family but I will have missed so much if I just tune in on Friday and Sunday.

Lent is an opportunity to drink in the fullness of what was achieved for me at Easter and it’s so big, and wonderful, and life giving that 40 days of giving myself over to it is hardly even enough to prepare myself to stand again and marvel at the love that poured out.

If I don’t tune in until Friday I have missed out and I don’t want to miss out on the depths of love and grace and freedom because I only gave it a couple of days across one weekend on my calendar….

how is your Lent?
If you are missing it then perhaps we could pick it up a little late and walk it slowly together?

Miriam xx

When the Packaging Loses It’s Shine

I saw this video some time ago and I loved it. It’s about children who live on a slum on top of a landfill making musical instruments from rubbish. It popped into my mind the other day and I loved the parallels it has with our lives.


I am so often like that all that junk and left-over packaging – at some time the shiny wears off, and I feel that really what I have to offer is likely to be, without wanting to be harsh, landfill.

My best efforts end in resentful sighs, wondering why I haven’t been noticed.

My good intentions whipped away like some discarded packaging on the side of the road.

My promises of good choices, right words, a life above reproach crumble, bend, rust.

and I realise on my own it’s all rubbish

then, I remember a One who walked on this very soil. The One who knows the dust of earth, the smell of rubbish piles.

He reaches down from heaven and he takes my rubbish and he takes time to re-shape it. He tunes me in, he allows me to hear his rhythms of Love, His song of Grace, his beat of Hope.

Maybe when you look from the outside it still looks like a collection of rubbish but when He starts to play the music is beautiful. Because that’s the beauty of it – not that he tells me to come back when I’m perfect – that he chooses to turn my rubbish into music.

He is writing a beautiful song with my life everyday. Because the song he sings over us is accompanied by the music He is writing with our lives.

Don’t be discouraged about the junk in your life – lean into the One who knows how to make beautiful instruments from what the world discards.

The Lord your God is with you.

    He is mighty enough to save you.

He will take great delight in you.

    The quietness of his love will calm you down.

    He will sing with joy because of you.
Zephaniah 3v17